Vision Fitness U20 Classic Exercise Bicycle Review

I purchased this exercise bike as a replacement for my Vision Fitness E3600HRT which I used for over 10 years before it died on me. My experience with the E3600HRT and with a Vision Fitness Treadmill that I own are what led me to consider the U20.

The U20, when I purchased it from Amazon, cost about $900. The E3600HRT cost about $1,400 in 2001 if that gives you any indication of the class of bicycles I am comparing.

This bike arrives in TWO packages (Amazon did not know this), one containing the frame and bulk of the machine, the other containing the console. The bicycle package weighed in around 70-80 pounds and was pretty beat up but was packed well enough that the only visible damage to the bike was that the sleeve where the seat post enters the frame had some plastic chipped off of it. Vision Fitness is VERY good at warranty replacement and had a replacement part at my home in about 3-4 days.

I made the rookie mistake of not actually test driving the bike before ordering it. These days “Spin Cycles” are all the rage and there are precious few showrooms where you can find an old school exercise bike such as this to try out. I had decided to trust my prior experience with the brand. LEARN FROM MY FAIL.

Some of the CONs below are from my own biases which emphasizes my point that all bikes are not for all people so a test ride, no matter how inconvenient, is required.

First the PROs:

  • This bicycle is big enough where you mostly won’t feel constrained on it. I don’t see much chance of even the largest users hitting their knees on the handlebars
  • The handlebars are sturdy and the heart rate sensors well placed and sensitive. I’ve used other bikes where you seem to have to fiddle with your hand position to get them to report your heart rate.
  • Easy to assemble. Although mounting the handlebar would the one task more easily performed with some help it *is* doable.
  • The seat post appears to be standard so you can swap out the provided seat for one you prefer (see CON)

Now the CONs:

  • The cranks are those awful straight ones that ensure that you will hit your heel or ankle against the base of the crank arm on each revolution. In order to avoid this you need to cant your foot inward which leads to an awkward pedaling position.
  • The seat post was loose when attached to the frame. The way it is designed there is no satisfactory way to tighten this. This is magnified up at the seat and resulted in it being “wobbly”.
  • Contrasted with my E3600HRT, the console is nearly 3 inches closer to the nose of the seat than I’m used to, the console is also angled more steeply. These two factors put the console right in my face if I’m leaning forward during a particularly challenging interval. I’m used to using aero bars on my racing bike and this lean-forward position is encumbered by having the console so (literally) in your face.
  • The provided seat points upward to a degree that I find just about the limit of my tolerance. And it *is* adjustable, but only to point even higher.

I ended up returning the U20, the first two issues ultimately made the decision for me. I *could* have replaced the cranks with the old ones from my retired exercise bike. And I can probably find a suitable seat at my local bike shop. And I may have been able to shim the seat post to stabilize it. But for $900 and the fact that I intend to spend at least 10 years with this equipment, I want it to feel right coming out of the gate.

Don’t get me wrong, Vision Fitness is an excellent company and this bike may work very well for some folks, just not for me. Now I need to go test-drive some stationary bikes.

Posted under Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on March 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm